Kirinda Temple

Historical charm

Kirinda, known as the town of wildlife, is a small port located on the south coast of Sri Lanka about 270 km from the city of Colombo and about 10km radius from the south of the ancient old religious city, Tissamaharama.

Visited by many pilgrims and tourists and naturalists alike, Kirinda is a beautiful place which welcomes you all throughout the year. The ancient temple which attracts the pilgrims, is sited atop a rocky outcrop from which one can obtain magnificent views of the desolate coast with its long stretch of sand dunes and the ocean beyond. On a clear day the light house on the Great Basses reef appears like a needle in the far distance.

With the atmosphere of its splendid setting aside the sea, Kirinda is the appropriate setting of one of the popular legends that constitute early Ceylon history. In the 2nd century BC, King Kelanitissa reigned over the west of the island from his capital at Kelaniya. Having suspected a Buddhist bhikshu (monk) of being involved in an intrigue between the Queen and his brother, King Kelanitissa had the monk tipped into a cauldron of boiling oil to the untold horror of his subjects.

It was prophesied that the kingdom could be saved only by way sacrificing a princess to the raging sea. The eldest daughter of the king, already reputed for her bravery, rose to the occasion to save her nation. Overcome with remorse, the king decided to atone for his sacrilegious act by making the sacrifice that would appease the gods. Accordingly he had a golden boat built, loaded it with one month's provisions for one & cast it adrift with his daughter. The boat carried an inscription that on board is no less than a princess. The boat was cast away onto the shores of Kirinda & the news was carried to the King Kavantissa, who reigned in Ruhuna. It was already prophesied, that if the king was ever to marry, it would only be a princess arriving over the seas.

The princess, named Queen Vihara Maha Devi, for her bravery, bore the king two sons who were to become heroes. The elder son King Dutugemunu (161 - 137BC) of Ruhuna became the greatest hero of Lanka by rescuing the nation from the marauding Dravidian invaders from south India. Viharamaha Devi herself is recognized as the heroine of our motherland.